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NLSC Podcast #315: Old Games & Old Habits

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Episode #315 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! Join Dee4Three and myself as we talk about our basketball gaming habits and preferences, and how the games we grew up playing in the 90s and early 2000s ended up shaping those tastes.

With the NBA shut down for the foreseeable future, it’s a great time to not only catch up on gaming, but also classic NBA games. We discuss some of the ways the NBA could improve League Pass and the official YouTube channel, including some comparisons to the WWE Network. Speaking of history, the 25th Anniversary of Michael Jordan’s first comeback is making us feel old, but it’s a good excuse to play the Double Nickel game in NBA 2K11’s Jordan Challenge. On that note, our main discussion topic this week is our basketball gaming preferences past and present, with reflections on the titles from the 90s and early 2000s that influenced our tastes and habits. From our preferred quarter and season length to how often we sim and how much realism we like, those old games established how we approach the virtual hardwood. We also touch on some of the quirks of those old games.

Tune in below!

What are your basketball gaming preferences? Which games shaped them, and have they changed over the years? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

Basketball Classics v1.1.0 Update Released

Basketball Classics v1.1.0 Update Released

Basketball Classics v1.1.0 is now available on Steam! If you already own the game, the update will come through automatically. If it doesn’t, try restarting your Steam client.

The new version includes a variety of AI fixes and enhancements, as well as tuned difficulty and the addition of standings in Season mode. The full patch notes are as follows:

  • CPU play calling – this is a big one. The CPU now calls and enacts plays, making single-player matches much more interesting with the varied offensive strategies you’ll have to defend against. Also works well as a training tool to teach new players how to use the different plays and when they might be effective.
  • CPU timeouts – cpu teams now have the wits to call timeouts appropriately, freezing the clock and moving them downcourt as they attempt to pull off clutch wins.
  • AI improvements – ranging from learning when to call timeouts and/or plays to being smarter about steal attempts, more accurately chasing the ball handler when attempting a steal, etc.
  • Increased difficulty – along with AI improvements and enhanced cpu abilities come difficulty enhancements that allow for longer replayability, especially at higher difficulty settings. Find techniques to beat the harder teams. Looking for a serious challenge? Season Mode on Legend is your jam.
  • Balancing – formula tweaks across the board to ensure things happen when you expect them to happen, nothing feels cheap, things just feel right. Feel, feel, feel.
  • Season standings – as requested by several users. Want to see how your team stacks up against the competition at any point in a season? Go into the League Leaders and change the VIEW selector to STANDINGS.

Feel free to share your thoughts on Basketball Classics v1.1.0 in the comments below, or here in the Forum. For more insights into the creation of the game, check out our interview with Josh and Dave in Episode #306 of the NLSC Podcast!

The Friday Five: 5 Types of Retro Content We Haven’t Seen Yet

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in basketball video games yet.

For over twenty years, we’ve seen some form of retro content in contemporary hoops games. It began with the inclusion of Legends and Decade All-Stars teams in NBA Live and NBA 2K around the turn of the millennium, and exploded with the addition of historical squads thanks to The Jordan Challenge and NBA’s Greatest. Since then we’ve also seen the addition of All-Time teams for every NBA franchise, the return of All-Decade squads in NBA 2K20, pre-built historical Draft Classes, and the inclusion of retro content in MyTEAM. Everything’s been done, right?

Not quite! I can think of at least five examples of retro content that we haven’t seen in NBA Live or NBA 2K yet, but I’d love to see implemented at some point. Some of it is easier said than done, and with the current backlash against nostalgia and the NBA of the 80s and 90s – all that “plumbers and dentists” nonsense – it probably isn’t a high priority for Visual Concepts or EA Sports. Nevertheless, these ideas are always fun to discuss, and who knows; some day, a couple of these ideas may become a reality! It never hurts to have extra content in the game – particularly for modding purposes – and with that in mind, here are some untapped ideas for retro content.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 99 Retrospective

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: NBA Live 99 Retrospective

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, it’s a retrospective of NBA Live 99.

When I think of overlooked and forgotten basketball video games, NBA Live 99 is one that often comes to mind. It doesn’t help that it came between NBA Live 98, a game that saw a really big leap from the year before, and NBA Live 2000, one of the best games in the NBA Live series. The lockout that threatened the 1999 season is also a major factor, as it meant that NBA Live 99 shipped without updated rosters (and in somewhat of a transitional year for the NBA). On top of that, its cover player, Antoine Walker, has consistently topped the “worst cover player” polls that we’ve run over the years. It’s unfortunate, as NBA Live 99 is actually a strong entry in the series.

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NLSC Podcast #301: 25th Anniversary of NBA Live (Part 1)

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Episode #301 of the NLSC Podcast is out now! This is Part 1 of a two-part episode, as Dee4Three and I celebrate the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live. We’re covering the series’ origins through to NBA Live 06 in Part 1, with retrospectives, trivia, and personal memories. Be sure to catch Part 2 next week, when we cover NBA Live 07 through to the present!

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at the history of the series with retrospectives and other fun content. We’re extending those deep dive retrospectives to the NLSC Podcast, as we start at the beginning with the precursor to the NBA Live series: Lakers vs. Celtics. From there, we move on to the game that started it all – NBA Live 95 – and go through the series year by year, discussing improvements to gameplay, debuting features, modding, and the overall evolution of the series. Along the way, we share some personal anecdotes of our time with the earlier titles, and compare them to the other releases they were competing with. We also discuss how and why the quality of the early NBA Live games is too often forgotten. Part 1 ends with NBA Live 06, a significant turning point for the series that it’s still feeling the effects of today.

Tune in below!

What are your memories of NBA Live 95 through NBA Live 06? Sound off in the comments section below, or join in the discussion here in the Forum! Additionally, feel free to hit us up with any feedback on the episode, as well as suggestions for topics that you’d like to hear us discuss in future episodes. For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki.

The Friday Five: 5 Steps To Setting Up A MyLEAGUE Game

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of tips for setting up a new MyLEAGUE game in NBA 2K20, or a new franchise mode game in general.

The 2020 NBA season tips off next week, and it’s set to be a very interesting one. There are several new duos around the league, and the path to the Larry O’Brien trophy seems as wide open as it’s been in quite some time. Excitement for the tip-off of the new NBA season is no doubt going to stir up some interest in MyLEAGUE in NBA 2K20. If you’re like me, you’re probably waiting for updated opening night rosters to get started in MyLEAGUE, and from there create your own reality as you take on the role of GM, coach, and every player on your roster.

As more than a coupled of failed threads in our Stories section have demonstrated however, it can be all too easy to lose interest in a franchise game. Sometimes, the idea is more fun on paper than it is in execution. If you make the wrong choices when you’re setting everything up or the wrong moves once you’ve begun, you can easily derail what should have been an extremely engaging and enjoyable experience. To that end, for this week’s Friday Five, I’m offering up five tips for setting up your MyLEAGUE game for success. You’ll ultimately have to make the decisions that work for you, but hopefully this will be a helpful guide to get you started.

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25th Anniversary of NBA Live: Fond NBA Live 95 Memories

25th Anniversary of NBA Live: Fond NBA Live 95 Memories

To mark the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live, we’re taking a look back at every game in the series with retrospectives and other fun content! This also includes re-running some features from our 20th Anniversary celebrations, with a few revisions. Whether you’re a long-time basketball gamer who grew up with NBA Live and are keen on taking a trip down memory lane, or you’re new to the series and want to learn about its history, we hope that you enjoy celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live here at the NLSC! Today, I’m sharing some personal recollections of NBA Live 95.

I hope you enjoyed my retrospective of NBA Live 95 that tipped off our celebration of the 25th Anniversary of NBA Live! Although I shared some personal memories of the game in my retrospective, I have a couple of other stories that I’ve saved for their own separate article. Specifically, I wanted to talk about playing NBA Live 95 for the first time on Super Nintendo, and playing a Season with the Houston Rockets with my cousin on PC. It’s the story of how I came to be a fan of the series…and also, how I engineered an unlikely comeback for Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird.

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Wayback Wednesday: Running With the Bulls in the Early 2000s

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the difficulty of running with the Chicago Bulls in video games of the early 2000s.

Dusting off old favourites and other interesting hoops titles from yesteryear makes me feel old myself, but that doesn’t compare to the knowledge that my favourite team, the Chicago Bulls, are twenty-one years removed from their most recent championship. It was an incredible time to be a Bulls fan in the 90s, though it has made the subsequent ups and downs quite frustrating to endure at times. It’s been difficult watching them miss out on top free agents, lose their own promising players through free agency or questionable trades, and endure misfortune such as Derrick Rose’s multiple injuries.

Of course, the virtual hardwood is a place where frustrated NBA fans can turn around the fortunes of their favourite team, and I’ve created some fun memories running with the virtual Bulls over the years. In the aftermath of The Last Dance, I’ve overachieved with the Baby Bulls in my memorable NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 Dynasties. More recently, I’ve taken them to back-to-back championships in MyCAREER. In the early 2000s however, it was rough playing with them in video games, as I’m sure my fellow long-time gamers and Bulls fans can attest. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Old School Season Modes (NBA Live 96)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at old school Season modes.

Modern basketball games have their issues which are important to discuss, but one thing we can’t say is that they don’t offer a variety of experiences. Even though NBA Live’s modes are still in need of fleshing out, by including Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The One with its connected experiences, we’re presented with a few choices. One of NBA 2K’s strengths for many years has been its deep modes, with MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, and MyCAREER’s online and offline modes keeping us hooked year after year. We’re provided several different ways of playing virtual basketball.

As much as the controls, graphics, physics, and any other aspect of modern titles, it’s the modes that make old basketball video games look primitive. The most in-depth experience on offer was generally the single Season mode, with minimal GM options and no independent action by the CPU teams. Nevertheless, we made the most of those old school Season modes, until they evolved into the multi-faceted, multi-season experiences that they would eventually become. They’re an important step in the evolution of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A MyCAREER Season to Remember

Championship in Second MyCAREER Season (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look back at a memorable MyCAREER season, and a few thoughts on moving on from the mode.

Last week, I completed my second MyCAREER season in NBA 2K19. It’s the first time that I’ve played through two whole seasons in MyCAREER, as I usually find myself losing interest or running out of time before the next game is released. This year however, I felt motivated to play a second campaign. Even though I’d vowed to move on from career modes this year, I did get stuck into MyCAREER when our NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad decided to give online play another try in NBA 2K19. Even when we called it quits, I found that I was hooked on the NBA side of things.

After making it to 90 Overall and winning the championship in my rookie campaign, I decided that I wanted to make my sophomore season one to remember. Although I’d normally consider myself a sim gamer, the current approach to MyCAREER doesn’t favour a realistic style of play. As such, I resolved to put up ridiculous numbers, aim for as many records as possible, and in short, utterly destroy the league. With Year 2 now in the books, I can confidently say that it’s a case of mission accomplished! My numbers were crazy from start to finish, and having completed another MyCAREER season, I’m feeling like I can move on from the mode, in NBA 2K19 and beyond.

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The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Ways to Play Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to make your basketball gaming experiences more interesting.

As we discussed in last week’s episode of the NLSC Podcast, the offseason is upon us, which means we’ve put in nine solid months of gaming with last season’s basketball titles. It’s around this time of the year that our habits on the virtual hardwood tend to change. Maybe we start spending time in a different mode, or try to finish up all of our business before this year’s games are released. If we’re enjoying what we’re doing, we may keep playing the current game throughout the preview season. Or, after so many months, we may feel it’s time to shelve the games and play something else.

If you are still keen on virtual hoops at this point of the year, you might feel inclined to try something different. For that matter, you may be considering new ways to play in the upcoming games, as it’s easy to get into a rut and fall back into old habits year after year. I know that I’ve often vowed to change things up by trying a different build or doing something out of the ordinary, only to opt for the familiar. There are some ideas that I’d like to try out at some point though, as well as a few that I have tried, if only briefly. If you’d like a different basketball gaming experience, consider these suggestions this offseason, or come NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20.

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The Friday Five: 5 Stages of Playing Through a Season

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five lists the five stages of playing through a season in any basketball video game mode.

As I write this, I’m approaching the end of the regular season in my MyCAREER game in NBA 2K19. Once again, not a bad effort for someone who was supposedly burned out on career modes! Having sufficiently levelled up my player for the online experiences, I am in a position where I can take a break from MyCAREER, but I also feel compelled to at least play through to the end of the first season. After all, I’m potentially less than thirty games away from cleaning up in the regular season awards, and leading the Chicago Bulls to another (virtual) championship.

I’ve played through at least one full season in multiple basketball games, including NBA Live 2004, NBA Live 06, NBA 2K13, and NBA 2K17. There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment in doing so, and if you’re really into the game, then the season does go by much quicker. It still takes some time though – especially if you’re playing twelve minute quarters – and there are undoubtedly moments where you must push yourself to complete the journey, particularly if you aren’t simulating any games. You’ll probably end up experiencing the five stages of playing through a season: a list that I’m making up, but one that I believe will resonate with many basketball gamers.

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The Friday Five: 5 Outmoded Features in Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five takes a look at five features in basketball video games that have become outmoded.

Something I’ve really enjoyed doing with my Wayback Wednesday articles this year is to look at specific features in old basketball games. I do want to get back to doing some full retrospectives on older titles, but I feel that it’s interesting to look back on older features, options, and gameplay mechanics that hoops games used to have. As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, there are certain aspects of those older games that I’d love to see implemented once again in future titles. In some cases of course, the basic concept would have to be updated and reworked a little.

On the other hand, there are certain features and functions that can definitely stay in the past. They aren’t necessarily bad or beyond being reworked into a newer concept, but they’ve become outmoded. There simply isn’t the need for them that there used to be; either another feature or function does the job better, or advances in technology and game design have rendered them largely useless. They are nevertheless important parts of basketball gaming history though, and it’s interesting to see how some of them have evolved or been replaced over time. To that end, let’s take a look at five outmoded features that no longer need to be staples of basketball games.

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Wayback Wednesday: Multiseason Play in NBA Live 99

League Development in NBA Live 99

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m continuing my retrospective on franchise modes with a look back at multiseason play in NBA Live 99’s Season mode.

NBA Live 98’s GM Mode was an interesting first step in changing up the approach to Season play, but it wasn’t quite what basketball gamers had wanted. It laid the groundwork for a variety of exciting new features however, and it was clear that gamers and EA Sports alike were committed to the idea of a deeper experience. A fully-fledged multiseason mode was once again something that gamers expressed their interest in through the NLSC’s NBA Live 99 Wishlist, submitted to the NBA Live development team at EA Canada on December 10th, 1997.

It would be another year before a few of those wishes were granted, but NBA Live 99 did take the next step by implementing multiseason play in its Season mode. Lacking many of the key elements of later franchise modes, but also introducing several important features as well, it’s arguably somewhat of a forgotten milestone on the road to the deep multiseason experience that we wanted to see in basketball video games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Wayback Wednesday: GM Mode in NBA Live 98

Fantasy Draft Order in GM Mode

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at GM Mode in NBA Live 98.

Although I’ve gravitated towards MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am in recent years, I’ve traditionally been a franchise gamer. For those of us who remember playing basketball games with a single season mode, the ability to play multiple seasons while managing our roster through the Draft, free agency, and salary cap-restricted trades was something that we eagerly wanted to see. As basketball gaming approached the turn of the millennium, the demand for an in-depth, multi-season mode – what we would now refer to as a franchise mode – was steadily rising. Although we’ve come to see fantastic franchise modes, it’s been a long road to get to that point.

Since I’m looking to get back into some franchise gaming this year, it seems as good a time as any to tip off a multi-part feature I’ve been wanting to do for some time: a look back at the history and evolution of franchise modes. First up is NBA Live 98’s GM Mode. While not strictly an in-depth franchise mode, it stands as one of the forerunners to the concept. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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